When the list of artists who will be exhibiting at the 2014 Whitney Biennial was released 10 days ago, the immediate consensus was that the curation is a bit out of touch. That response has been the case for many Whitney Biennials that no longer feel like the annual art exhibition meant to be at the pulse of the contemporary moment. It has become more popular for the kinds of pieces it lacks than the ones it includes.
Perhaps if Kanye West was curating the Whitney Biennial, as he's been asked to do for the Venice Biennale (via this petition), the outcome would be better. After repeatedly demanding in interviews that the world take him seriously as a creator and inventor (our generation's Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, and Michelangelo, as he has said), Kanye has taken his gospel of self-affirmation and auto-tuned motivational speaking on the road for the Yeezus tour, which just left New York.
After releasing the video for "Bound 2" on November 19, with Kim's naked, nipple-less body in front of Kanye's on a motorbike, art critic Jerry Saltz responded with a Facebook post slamming it as "A teenage girl's bedroom idea of romance meets a Richard Prince cowboy picture." People didn't take that too well, so today he has articulated what he means on Vulture, which funny enough, was published within the same hour as Seth Rogen and James Franco's parody of the video.
Saltz defends his initial claims about the video by calling it "The New Uncanny," described as the "collective cultural fracturing" that takes place when stars like Kanye, Gaga, Kim K, and even Marina Abramovic try to communicate sincerity and end up revealing that they are out of touch.
He argues that the work should be in the 2014 Whitney Biennial and clarifies his initial Facebook post description:
“Bound 2” is certainly a piece of work—as bizarrely gonzo and creepily asexual as Jeff Koons's hyperrealistic 1991 paintings of himself having sex with his then-wife Cicciolina, John Currin's 1989 paintings of Breck girls, and Marina Abramovic’s staring at spectators at MoMA in 2010. “Bound 2” is different: a freakish act of creation and destruction by apportion. It stars Kanye and his fiancée, Kim Kardashian, and we see (along with the two of them) wild horses running in rivers, eagles flying to the sky, sunsets, purple mountain majesties, redwood forests, and gulfstream waters. It's a teenage girl's bedroom's idea of romance crossed with Richard Prince's Cowboy photographs, American Romanticism, Celestial Seasonings packages, shampoo commercials, Iranian music videos, Thomas Kinkaid, beer ads, Jeff Koons, The Onion, Lars von Trier, the House of Fendi, and Jeffrey Deitch and his own uncanny 1992 prophecy "The Freudian model of the psychological person is dissolving...freed of the constraints of one's past." The New Uncanny is un-self-consciousness filtered through hyper-self-consciousness, unprocessed absurdity, grandiosity of desire, and fantastic self-regard.
Whether Kanye is cool with being a part of The New Uncanny or having his work included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial is uncertain. Coming off of his art and design-heavy conversation with Bret Easton Ellis (the second part just came out) and a pending announcement today, it's clear that his winning continues, regardless of what Saltz thinks. Read the rest here.